Fashion designer Lisa Von Tang took to Facebook over the weekend to bring to light a rather rampant issue – the abuse of domestic helpers. In her post, story of how her helper’s “friend’s cousin died yesterday, after having been locked up by her employer for 3 MONTHS after arriving in Singapore”. Many domestic helpers in Singapore have had to suffer similar fates, or worse ones that start with abuse and disrespect.
In her post, the Chinese-German fashion designer wrote that the domestic helper who committed suicide “was a first-time helper, and her phone was confiscated shortly upon arrival. She was given no off days, and her cousin never saw her once in the 3 months that she lived in Singapore. The case was closed, with cause of death being suicide”.
She also wrote of the huge number of stories that were shared about abuse of domestic helpers.
“Stories where passports get confiscated, no communication with outer world is allowed, salaries are deducted indefinitely, physical abuse and more”, she wrote.
Lisa wrote about how hiring a domestic helper was just like hiring any other employee. Should they not perform the duties required of them, then either train them or fire them.
She then spoke about her own helper and said, “my helper is ‘merely’ a helper because she is from a poor family in the Philippines. Not because she’s not extremely smart, competent, and dedicated to her work. If she was born in Canada like I was, she would have been able to complete her engineering degree, and led a very different life”.
Her post received almost 1,000 shares and 1,100 reactions from netizens who even include Alfian Sa’at.
Lisa’s message was that Singaporean society should not condone the poor treatment of the vulnerable such as these helpers.
“We should not live in a society where it’s common for helpers to kill themselves, because they cannot stand the abuse from their employers”, she said.
Netizens attributed much of the cause to maid employment agencies, where the girls were not vetted properly and sometimes hired despite being underaged. They added that the poor treatment of these girls began there.